Former NCF Director Grace Wallace reminds us of the opportunities we have as Christian nurses to address the spiritual needs of patients with professional, compassionate care for the whole person.
I believe every person is created by God as a spiritual being who needs to know God, find life in him, and be nurtured in the growth process. As nurses, we can help, if we are alert to that spiritual dimension. Spiritual care is helping patients with their spiritual needs. It may be something we say or do directly, or it may be putting patients in touch with someone who can help.
When we listen to patients and care for them, often we establish rapport, and they would rather talk about spiritual concerns than other things during the few minutes we are with them. . . We can set a climate that lets patients know we are willing to talk about faith. The way we answer questions can encourage or discourage more discussion . . . If I am answering patients’ questions, I may be talking about my faith, but I’m not telling them to believe as I do.
Nursing students must learn that the first principle is to determine the patient’s primary need. Then provide the very best care you can. This means including spiritual assessment when you do physical and psycho-social assessment. Be sure to document what the patient said or asked related to his or her spiritual needs along with your other observations. With good evidences of spiritual need, you can demonstrate the appropriateness of intervention.
--Grace Wallace, RN, MA
NCF Director 1968-1984
Excerpt from “Portrait of a Nurse,” Journal of Christian Nursing, ©1984 - Download in PDF and read the complete "Portrait of a Nurse" article.